So we’ve discussed issues surrounding grain: that they contain antinutrients, which bind micronutrients preventing your body from fully absorbing the valuable minerals they contain. Moreover, grains can be difficult to digest. We discussed soaking whole grain in a warm, acidic solution to mitigate the effects of phytic acid as well as how fermenting grains and flours reaches the same goal. The third method of mitigating the effect of antinutrients naturally present in whole grain is sprouting. Remember: if you missed a day, check out the challenge’s archives to get caught up.
Much like traditional soaking, sprouting requires that you soak grains overnight; however, we take it a step further by allowing whole grain to germinate ever so slightly. This action effects three goals:
sprouting grain activates food enzyme
sprouting grains increases vitamin content
sprouting grain neutralizes antinutrients like phytic acid which bind up minerals preventing your ability to fully absorb them
Sprouted grain is also more nutrient dense than its unsprouted counterpart which is why, in our home, we use sprouted grain flours to the exclusion of other whole meal flours. While we frequently choose to make our own (and I’ll teach you how tomorrow), it does require special equipment. You can also purchase sprouted grain flour online (see sources). Incidentally, we also use nut flours including coconut and blanched almond flours which require no additional treatment or presoaking and we’ll address why that’s the case later in the challenge.
Traditionally speaking, pre-industrial grain-consuming peoples across the world often consumed sprouted grain incidentally if not intentionally. Without quick, modern methods for gathering and storing freshly harvested grain, grain kernels were often left in the field and germinated before they could be effectively gathered and dried. In their book Russian Cooking, part of Time Life’s fantastic series Foods of the World which was published several decades ago and is since out of print, authors Helen and George Papashvily discuss how rural Russian villagers who still maintained their traditional methods of growing, harvesting and preparing foods made a cracker-like bread from freshly ground sprouted grain and sourdough starter. Much like sourdough, sprouted grain has a history.
I enjoy sprouted grain’s flavor and, because it’s antinutrient content has already been mitigated by the germination process, it is well-suited to quick breads and to thickening sauces in a way that other whole meal flours are not. Moreover, sprouted grain that has not been milled into flour makes for a lovely porridge.
So your assignment for today is to start sprouting a bit of grain, knowing that sprouted grain itself can be substituted on a 1:1 ratio for regular grain just as sprouted grain flour can be substituted on a 1:1 ratio for any whole meal flour. Don't forget to feed your sourdough starter!
One last note, before it comes up again: I do not recommend Ezekial sprouted breads and products as they also contain sprouted soybeans and sprouting is not generally considered an effective way of mitigating the antinutrients found in soy: they're simply far too plentiful.
Day #5 Check List:
It's simple, today and over the next few days you're going to sprout some grain! Before you ask the question, you can use ANY whole grain. Some will need more germination time, others less - use your judgment. Then, tomorrow, we'll discuss converting your sprouted grain to flour or, alternatively, you can cook it as it is:
Start with clean grain, so take care in sorting through it to make sure all pebbles and grains with poor appearance are adequately removed.
Rinse grains thoroughly.
Add grain to a ceramic or stainless steel crock, pouring filtered water over the grain until the grain is completely submersed under several inches of water.
Soak the grains overnight.
In the morning, pour the grains into a fine mesh sieve and rinse them well.
Throughout the day, rinse the grains multiple times taking care to stir them so all grains are rinsed evenly.
Within one to three days, you will see a little sprout appear at the base of each grain. This is the sprout-level best used for flour; howeverm you can continue to sprout the grain by rinsing and stirring it multiple times a day for up to three days if using it to eat raw in salads or even in cooked porridges.
They should be kept refrigerated after they sprout to your liking, but kept at room temperature during the sprouting process.